TORONTO - If everything goes according to plan, Mark (The Machine) Hominick will end the year with a victory before he and his wife welcome their second daughter in early 2013.
The Thamesford, Ont., native is scheduled to meet Pablo (The Scarecrow) Garza on the main card of UFC 154 in Montreal on Nov. 17. Hominick’s wife, Ashley, is expected to give birth in January.
But this isn’t the first time Hominick has stepped into the cage with a child on the way. His first daughter, Raeya, was born two weeks after he challenged featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 129 in Toronto April 30.
“I guess I don’t time them too well,” Hominick joked over the phone.
“I can’t imagine the stress it puts her through. Definitely, behind every strong man is an even stronger woman and that’s the case here. She’s a big supporter, but I can’t imagine the pressure to watch the fight and to have everything going on with the pregnancy. It takes a strong woman.”
Of course Hominick aims to make his fight with Garza an easy watch for his wife. When he fought Aldo, he was battered for four rounds and suffered a cringe-worthy hematoma on his forehead. In the final frame he provided one of the most electrifying moments of 2011 as he attempted to put the Brazilian away with ground-and-pound as 55,724 rabid fans cheered him on.
Though the fight stole the show and was among the best that year, Hominick lost a unanimous decision. The bout also marked the beginning of his current three-fight losing skid. After suffering a rapid-fire KO loss to Chan Sung Jung in December, he dropped an entertaining split decision to Eddie Yagin roughly four months later.
Hominick knows his fight with Garza is a must-win.
“One hundred percent, I feel like my back is against the wall in this fight,” he said. “I feel I perform under the situations, when the pressure is on — and that’s what I’m going to do at UFC 154. I’m going to prove that I’m still among the best in this division. That’s my mindset right now. I want to take another serious run at the title. That all starts Nov. 17.
“The point of the game now is: Every fight is important. There’s so much pressure involved and if you can’t handle that pressure, you’re not going to survive in this sport. I feel there’s always pressure. I pride myself on being able to handle that pressure and going out there to perform.”
Luckily for Hominick, his bout with Garza takes place on his old stomping grounds. He spent much of his early career fighting in Montreal for Quebec-based promotion UCC, which later became TKO. He holds a record of 10-2 in the city, with his only losses coming to Japanese standout Hatsu Hioki.
Hominick also will be featured on the same card as some familiar faces from those days, namely welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, who meets interim titleholder Carlos Condit; training partner Sam Stout, who locks horns with fellow Canadian John Makdessi; Ivan Menjivar, who faces Azamat Gashimov; and Patrick Cote, who takes on Alessio Sakara.
Hominick said UFC 154 feels like a homecoming party.
“It’s kind of like going down memory lane because Georges St. Pierre and I ... both won our Canadian titles together,” Hominick said. “So there’s definitely a big nostalgia feeling that way, for us to go in there and both get a win.
“It’s king of a homecoming party.
“The thing with Montreal — and Canadian fans in general — the fans in Montreal are loyal. They definitely support their fighters ... So that’s something I’m really looking forward to, being back in that culture.”
But Hominick isn’t about to get overly sentimental. He knows he has a tough fight ahead of him.
Standing 6-foot-1, Garza is tied with George Roop and Cole Miller as the tallest fighters in the featherweight division. The same night Hominick battled Aldo, Garza earned submission of the night for his spectacular flying-triangle choke on Yves Jabouin.
But dealing with a taller opponent is nothing new for Hominick, who holds a TKO victory over Roop. As far as he’s concerned, the keys to victory will be beating Garza to the punch in the striking exchanges and not giving him opportunities to utilize his long frame on the mat.
“I think the main thing that eliminates his reach advantage is my hand speed,” Hominick said. “That’s one thing you can really use to cover distance. That’s where I think I have a big advantage over him.
“Also, using the body. By hitting the body, it brings him down to your level and you can do a lot of damage, as opposed to just shooting for the head. So I definitely think body shots are going to be in the arsenal.
“Staying compact (on the ground), staying tight and not letting him use those long legs. Any time you’re facing some who’s tall with lanky limbs, they have a lot of advantages and different chokes with the legs, as well. The main thing is just preparing for the worst and hoping the outcome is the best.”
Since Chael Sonnen is coaching opposite Jon Jones on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffin will now meet Phil Davis at UFC 155 in Las Vegas on Dec. 29 ... Interim UFC bantamweight titleholder Renan Barao will not defend his belt, opting instead to wait for champion Dominick Cruz to return from a torn ACL ... Welterweight Matt Riddle and bantamweight Francisco Rivera both failed their UFC 149 drug tests and their wins have been overturned and ruled no contests. Riddle tested positive for marijuana, while Rivera was flagged for an undisclosed over-the-counter stimulant. Both fighters were suspended 90 days, retroactive to July 21 ... Lethbridge, Alta., welterweight Jordan Mein will face UFC veteran Forrest Petz at The Score Fighting Series on Nov. 23 in Hamilton.